Premier League clubs may request that certain referees do not take charge of their games.
The Daily Mail claims that there is evidence that some officials have not refereed certain clubs after making controversial decisions against them.
For example, back in August 2019, Aston Villa thought they had snatched a late equaliser against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park when Henri Lansbury struck in injury time.
However, Kevin Friend adjudged that Jack Grealish had dived in the build-up and consequently ruled the goal out.
Over a year-and-a-half later, Friend is yet to take charge of another game involving Dean Smith’s side.
Similarly, David Coote has also not been involved in a Liverpool game since his VAR horror show in the Merseyside derby in October. The referee somehow did not order for goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to be sent off for his season-ending challenge on Virgil van Dijk.
According to the Daily Mail, a source claims that Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) make decisions with “awareness of sensitivities”.
Since the introduction of VAR, Premier League officials have come under even more scrutiny. With the ability to watch back key decisions, there is even less of an excuse to make an error.
This has drastically increased the heat that Premier League referees come under. Mike Dean recently had to take a break following his heavily criticised dismissal of Tomas Soucek in the 0-0 draw between Fulham and West Ham United at Craven Cottage in February.
Obviously, players and managers may wish to avoid officials that have cost them in the past. Similarly, referees may not be completely comfortable taking charge of a fixture that involves a club that they are not popular with.
However, every referee will have made a mistake in the past against every team. If clubs start blocking certain officials from refereeing their games every time they make a mistake, then they will eventually run out of officials.
The standard of refereeing in the Premier League is not what it should be. But it’s not out of bias, but genuine incompetence. Unless a referee has an obvious bias against a certain club, this sort of thing cannot continue.
Nonetheless, it will until the standards improve and referees are held accountable for their mistakes.